A man who sold Kodi TV boxes which allowed viewers to watch subscription sport and movie channels for free has been given a suspended jail term.
Brian Thompson, 55 from Middlesborough, had denied breaking the law by selling the Kodi boxes, setting up the prospect of a landmark trial. But appearing at Teesside Crown Court he changed his plea to guilty.
Thompson was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He admitted one count of selling and one count of advertising devices “designed, produced or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures”.
The court heard Thompson had been selling “fully loaded” Kodi boxes – ones that had been installed with third-party add-ons that can access pirate content. He had previously claimed the law was a “grey area” and said he wanted to know whether he was “doing anything illegal”.
Thompson had sold an estimated 400 boxes, earning him about £40,000, and losses to Sky were an estimated £200,000 in subscriptions.
Judge Peter Armstrong said there could be no doubt now about the legality of the fully loaded boxes.
“Those who lawfully have to pay £50 a month or more on Sky or BT subscriptions, are done a disservice by people like you and those who buy these devices,” he said.
He said he was suspending Thompson’s jail sentence but others in the future may not be so fortunate.